Do printed catalogs still work?
The Harvard Business Review (HBR) worked with a U.S. based specialty jewelry company to find out.
This e-commerce retailer (which had no physical store presence) typically generated an annual operating profit of $12 million, with a database of approximately 28,000 customers. This company partnered with HBR to study the impacts of bi-monthly print catalogs through field experiments involving 30% of its customers over a span of six months.
Of those customers, 5% received neither email nor catalogs, 55% received a weekly marketing email, and 40% received the new bi-monthly catalogs in addition to the weekly email marketing. Over 90% of photos and product descriptions were the same between emails and catalogs to control the content's effects.
The results were impressive. Compared to the Control group, the “Email + catalog” group experienced a 49% lift in sales and a 125% lift in inquiries. In comparison, the “Email-only” group only had a 28% increase in sales and a 77% lift in inquiries over the control group; the sales and inquiry lifts from catalogs almost doubled those generated by email marketing!
Furthermore, of those customers that received the catalogs and made inquiries, 90% said they had browsed through the catalogs and kept them for an average of seven days.
Using Hard Copy Catalogs in Your Omnichannel Marketing
Catalogs are here to stay, and companies like L.L. Bean, Ikea, J. Crew, and Athleta continue to dominate sales by distributing printed catalogs.
The simple fact of the matter is that buyers don’t want to connect with brands exclusively online. Yes, the stats show that the number of people researching and shopping online versus in-store continues to grow.
But many buyers purchase online because they’ve seen something marketed through a printed medium. According to BRAND United, around 86% of shoppers buy an item online after looking at it in a printed catalog first.
5 Ways to Keep Your Campaign on Track
If you are considering catalog marketing, here are some suggestions to get you started.
1. Conduct Market Research
Study your current customers and make a note of gender, geographic location, and the strategic personas you’d like to target. Match the items you want to sell with the target audience you want to reach.
2. Create Campaign Goals
These goals should be measurable, clear, and realistic – like driving customers to a retail location, increasing “product of the month” sales online, or growing your subscription base.
3. Develop Your Story
Catalogs don’t share information; they sell stories!
Your piece should invite prospects into a story that helps them visualize their “ideal self.” And remember, when people are heavily invested in a bigger financial commitment, they need narratives that justify this expense (like, “you deserve something delectable”). Work hard to set their conscience at ease, and you will be rewarded with loyalty and sales.
4. Stay Focused
Continue to send your catalog to existing customers to reinforce the idea that you have the products they want. In addition, mail your catalog to individuals who fit the description of your target customer.
5. Connect Timelines and Expectations
Create a schedule and execute the campaign. By using a schedule, you can see if you are achieving the benchmarks you’ve articulated. You can measure the outcome by having customers refer to catalog codes, measuring the number of new accounts generated, or conducting surveys.
A One-Two Punch
Direct mail meets customers where they live, and catalogs are a long-standing customer favorite.